For part of my summer task we have been asked to create two portraits, one of someone I know and one of a stranger; as well as creating these two portraits we have also been asked to rework a project from our first year at university that we think we could improve and build on. I have decided to combine these two tasks together; I felt my weakest project in my first year was when I looked at portraiture and how a portrait can represent a person. For my tasks I am aiming to build on my project in which I had to create a photographic portrait series to represent one person, however instead of creating a series about one person, I will now look at how a single portrait can represent a person, both someone I know and a stranger.
But what represents a person?
Is it someone’s personality? The way they look? Is it the way they act? Is it their belongings?
To me there are many things that could represent a person and their life. As I looked at in my previous project on representational portraiture, even shop windows can represent a person; the windows represent peoples lifestyles and their way of living. There are many things that could represent an individual person, however I want to look at the idea of identity and biological identity.
Dictionary.com describes identity as:
1. the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions: The identity of the fingerprints on the gun with those on file provided evidence that he was the killer.
2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another: He doubted his own identity.
3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is: a case of mistaken identity.
4. the state or fact of being the same one as described.
5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time and sometimes disturbed in mental illnesses, as schizophrenia.
I was interested in the synonyms related to the word identity; individuality, personality, distinctiveness, uniqueness, making me think how each person’s identity is their own and individual to them, no one has the same identity. Each identity represents a person, yes there will be characteristics and personalities of people that are similar but even though this is true each person is still unique and has their own identity.
Our biological identity is the identity created by our biology as a human, our DNA makes up most of this identity; DNA decides what we look like, how we act, it is basically our genetical blueprint. DNA contains the biological instructions that make each species unique, along with the instructions it contains, DNA is passed from adult organisms to their offspring during reproduction. The reason we resemble our parents and ancestors is because we have some of their information, genes and qualities in our own DNA which makes us how we are. Even ‘identical twins’ are not completely identical they have slight changes in their appearance and identity.
To me, biological identity is the greatest form of identity for it cannot be changed; we are the way we are because of our DNA, no matter how we try to change our looks with cosmetic surgery or make up, or how we change our personality, we will always be the same person deep down as our biological identity will not change and cannot be changed. For this reason I want to base this project on biological identities as I feel they are true representations of people.